FODPZ Cherishes Turning Point in its Revival Bid

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FODPZ is one of the few SAFOD affiliates that have experienced declining institutional capacity the past few years.

The first quarter of the year 2015 was a turning point for SAFOD’s national affiliate in Zimbabwe, the Federation of Organisations of Disabled People in Zimbabwe (FODPZ). It is one of the few affiliates that has experienced internal institutional challenges over the past years which resulted in the federation’s declining institutional capacity (and to some extent, credibility) to manage disability programs as there was no strong governance structure in place after the tenure of its Executive Board expired.

However, the good news is that during the first quarter of 2015, the major highlight was the successful convening of an elective General Assembly on 27 to 28 February for the first time in fourteen years, which elected into office a seven member national committee for a three year term consisting of three men and four women. Funding from CBM enabled FODPZ to hold the elective general assembly.

Despite the federation experiencing institutional challenges prior to the General Assembly, FODPZ is in the third and final year of partnership with African Development Alliance (ADA). The partnership, whose objective is to implement a project called Communities of Practice in Disability Advocacy for Mainstreaming (COPDAM), targets influential government technocrats. COPDAM project also seeks influence civic organizations to embrace disability issues in all spheres of their work.

Although it is sad that the FODPZ’s funding for COPDAM project will be ending at the end of the year; the good news is that CBM promised to fund FODPZ to continue the activities of COPDAM. Several meetings were held between CBM officials and FODPZ. CBM is also organizing a meeting of all international development donor agents based in Harare, in order to introduce and link them with FODPZ. The tentative dates for the meeting is middle June this year.

Zimbabwe has no disability policy in place although there is a Disabled Persons Act (DPA) which was passed by Parliament in 1996. FODPZ together with other stakeholders produced a draft disability policy. The document can only become a policy when approved by Government.

It is however understood that Cabinet approved the draft Policy this year. The last stage left is the validation and the signing of the document by the responsible Government minister. The date for a meeting to validate the Disability Policy is not yet set by Government.

FODPAX new partner, CBM, has confirmed it may possibly fund the holding of the stakeholders’ meeting to finalize the validation of the Draft Policy.

NFPDN Elects New Executive Members at National Congress

On 11th to the 12th February 2015, the  National Federation of People with Disabilities in Namibia (NFPDN) organized a National Congress held at Keetmanshoop which elected eight new Board Members of NFPDN.

With financial and technical support from the Ministry of Health and the Office of the Prime Minister, the Congress was an outcome of the unwavering efforts by the disability movement in the country in their effort to revive the NFPDN after years inactivity.

At the time when the federation was still active, SNFPDN had been involved in a number of activities geared at uplifting the rights and welfare of Persons with Disabilities in Namibia through its affiliated Disability Peoples Organisations (DPOs).

From 2003 – 2005, NFPDN had been working actively in the implementation of the Awareness Building Campaign (ABC) in partnership with SAFOD and FFO. During that period, NFPDN led several successful events which brought together stakeholders to discuss disability issues within the Namibian context. The ABC contributed an important ideological contribution to change the understanding and attitudes of people with disabilities – going from charity to independence. ABC also gave local activities on disability issues a nation-wide perspective.

NFPDN had bought many assets. Some of them were still new and in very good condition. However, as of February 2015, (i.e. prior to the Congress), most of its office items, including vehicles and computers were sold without the federation’s knowledge when its offices closed down. NFPDN therefore had to almost start from scratch shortly after the Congress, embarking on journey of rebuilding.

Due to a number of institutional challenges ranging to leadership and management problems, the federation scaled down its activities for several years, and its secretariat shut down.  Before experiencing the downturn, the federation was being funded by the European Union (EU) for four years. Funding from the EU enabled it to establish offices in Opuwo, Oshakati, Rundu and Windhoek. After it ran out of funds all its operations ended.

The “death” of NFPDN proved to be a huge blow to the disability movement and advocacy in the country as there was no longer a credible structure to coordinate the activities of DPOs as well as provide direction and capacity-building of DPOs in advocacy for disability rights, mainstreaming and overall inclusive development.

Besides the elections of Board Members, the National Congress also sought to explore and strategize on how the federation could be strengthened and enhance programs for people with disabilities as part of the revival process after years of institutional decline.  And the new Board was mandated to deliberate on how it would go about reviving the federation.

The National Congress, which was attended by people with disabilities from different regions and DPOs, therefore elected the following  names of individuals who will run the federation in the next four years:

Chairperson:
Daniel Trum (NFVI)

Vice chairperson:
Sylvia Chindunka (Parent)

Secretary:
Gabriel Shikwaya (Albino Trust/Youth)

Treasurer: 
Julian Samuel (NFVI)

Additional members:
Elia Shapwa (NNAD)
Seblon Nakakuwa (NOYD)
Soini Mukwangu
Anguezell Lottering (NOYD)

SAFOD Outlines AfriNEAD Work, Resolutions at Africa Day 2015 Celebrations

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Picture courtesy of CCTV. You can watch a CCTV video featuring part of the the event at Artscape Theatre here

SAFOD Director General, Mr. Mussa Chiwaula, was among the invited delegates at this year’s Africa Day Celebrations at the Artscape Theatre in Western Cape, South Africa, on 25 May 2015.

Celebrated under the theme “African journeys of excellence”, a series of performances characterized the event which was graced by the Guest of Honour, Premier Helen Zille. The theme highlighted innovative African disability research findings, promote sustainable and forward-looking African trade routes, mutual understanding through tourism and investing in each other’s economies.

Africa Day celebrates the day when the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the precursor to the African Union (AU), was formed in 1963. It acknowledges the progress that Africans have made, while reflecting upon the common challenges we face in a global environment.

In her address, Premier Helen Zille said the Africa Day celebrations had come to mean more than just an anniversary of the African Union (AU).

“The Western Cape’s celebration of Africa day 2015 is in attempt at a Provincial level to encourage engagement and collaboration by African experts at a people-to-people and institution to institution level,” she said.

Dignitaries from the African Network for Evidence to Action on Disability (AfriNEAD) were in attendance. SAFOD’s Chiwaula was among the representatives of the AfriNEAD where he currently serves as one of its core group team members. He spoke during the event about some of the key resolutions and recommendations that have had been agreed in a series of the AfriNEAD events that had so far taken place.

“Since the first AfriNEAD gathering took place in 2007 here in Cape Town, quite a lot has happened in the field of research that has benefited SAFOD and other stakeholders in various ways,” he said.

He said one of the resolutions that have been reached so far include the need for AfriNEAD and other similar research institutions to move beyond the theoretical level of research in Africa. He noted that research was generally still largely impairment-focused, hence there was need to shift to more action-focused research to realize the rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa.

“Research and documentation should focus on African perspectives on disability (African model) using indigenous knowledge,” Chiwaula said.

He also outlined more recommendations such as strengthened partnerships among different players; strengthening of web-based research tools; creation of national research databases; involvement of Persons with Disabilities as active participants in disability mainstreaming efforts; and evidence-based advocacy and lobbying on wide-ranging issues; just to mention a few.

Other dignitaries present at the event included the former Minister of Disability and Elderly Affairs from Malawi, Ms. Rachel Kachaje (Currently the Chairperson Disabled Women in Africa (DIWA) and Current Chairperson for SAFOD Revival Team); Minister of Finance, Dr. Ivan Meyer; Minister of Economic Opportunities, Mr. Alan Winde; Director Centre for Social Research University of Malawi; Chancellor College in Malawi, Dr. Alister Munthali; CEO: Africa Disability Alliance (ADA), Mr. Kudakwashe Dube; and Head of the Centre for Rehabilitation Studies at Stellenbosch University, Dr. Gubela Mji, who is also Chairperson of AfriNEAD.

Inclusive Education Experts Workshop Inspires SAFOD

SAFOD was among the participants at the Inclusive Education Experts Workshop organized by the Africa Disability Alliance (ADA) held at Holiday Inn Johannesburg Airport from 16th – 20th March 2015.

The workshop discussed the draft SADC Inclusive Education Strategy for Learners with Disabilities; the draft Data collection tools on learners with disabilities in Southern Africa; and the draft Training manual for special education needs teachers.

ADA (formerly the Secretariat of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities) has been coordinating the process of drafting the strategy with financial support from the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA). Throughout the process, ADA has been ensuring that all inputs from the different SADC countries and other partners have been incorporated accordingly before the document is endorsed by SADC [Southern Africa Development Community].

The document presents the SADC strategy on enhancing access to education, within an inclusive education system, for learners with disabilities. While its focus is access to education for learners with disabilities, this focus is conceptualized within an inclusive education system.

The strategy contributes towards the implementation of the SADC regional indicative strategic development plan with main focus to the social and human development goal which is “to contribute to the reduction of human poverty and to improve the availability of educated, well informed, skilled, healthy, flexible, culturally responsive, productive and efficient human resources for the promotion of SADC’s equitable economic growth, deeper integration and its competitiveness in the global economy”.

The Strategic Framework and Programme of Action mark the first deliberate effort to mount a regional response to the growing challenges of learners with disabilities in SADC.  The Framework recognises the complexity of the matter and in that regard, has adopted a holistic and integrated approach to ensure comprehensive access to education for learners with disabilities.

On the other hand, the other document that was reviewed during the workshop the draft Training manual for special education needs teachers, was geared at aiding teachers in Primary Schools in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, and Zambia to support learners with learning differences.

The rational underlying the manual was the belief that specific human abilities and skills could be meaningfully developed and increased as a result of changed behavior and mind-sets or attitudes by trainees with regard to learners with differences, applying of appropriate exercises and ongoing commitment to learners with differences.

Apparently, the workshops came at a time when SAFOD had already started preparations to organize the Southern Africa Inclusive Education Symposium in January 2016.  The workshop therefore was an eye opener to SAFOD as its representatives – the Director General, Mr. Mussa Chiwaula, and Programs Manager, Mr. George Kayange – drew important lessons and ideas in terms of how they would subsequently develop the framework for the Inclusive Education Symposium whose objective is mainly to showcase and take stock of what may have worked and what may have not by 2016, thereby creating a platform of learning.

The delegates to the symposium are expected to utilize the event for sharing lessons learnt, experiences and evidence-based data that can ultimately shape the Post 2015 Agenda as regards Inclusive Education.

Preparations for the 11th SADC CSO Forum at an Advanced Stage

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Boichoko Ditlhake, SADC-CNGO Director. (Photo courtesy of the Civil Society Sector in Seychelles

SAFOD has been participating in the preparatory meetings for the 11th SADC CSO Forum (CSF) which will be held in Gaborone, Botswana, during the run-up to the SADC Heads of State Summit in August 2015.

SAFOD is one of the networks participating in the Steering Committee of the “SADC We Want” Campaign where it is coordinating the Disability Thematic Area. The Forum for SADC civil society meets every year to dialogue and reflect on issues affecting the SADC region. The SADC We Want campaign is led by the civil society Apex Alliance which includes the Southern African Trade Unions Coordination Council (SATUCC), SADC Council of NGOs (SADC-CNGO) and the Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa (FOCCISA).

The Apex Alliance is an independent apex alliance of umbrella formations of civil society in all the 15 SADC member states, representing thousands of faith-based and grassroots organisations and millions of organized workers.

At one of the CSF planning meetings held on 8 April 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa, the steering committee members reaffirmed the role of the alliance partners in ensuring that this year’s forum significantly contributes towards bringing about real and sustainable change within SADC.

“We need to ensure that our role as alliance partners must go beyond just engaging with our constituencies constantly. We now need to explore new ways of running the forum to make sure we make tangible and sustainable impact [within the SADC system],” said Boichoko Ditlhake, SADC-CNGO Director.

Delegates observed that despite the CSF being held yearly for the past 10 years unrevealing and advancing various regional development issues, not much change within SADC, particularly in terms of how the institution governs itself. Hence the delegates proposed that the main theme for this year should focus on rebuilding SADC.

“It’s not about the issues because we already know them. Rather, it’s about how we mobilize ourselves to deal with the issues. Issues need to appeal to the national contexts while we transmute them into the regional context,” added Ditlhake.

At these forums, the CSF builds consensus and unity on the burning issues facing CSO in the region and addresses itself in particular to the challenges and opportunities facing regional integration. The CSF also contributes towards a common and shared plan of action on agreed priorities for CSOs in Southern Africa.

The 11th CSF will coincide with the summit on the review of the SADC Gender Protocol to be convened by the Genderlinks, while a number of side events will also be held during the 11th CSO forum. At the planning meeting, SAFOD, on its part, committed to holding its own side event focusing on “Disability and Inclusive Development,” which is also expected to discuss the framework for a proposed SADC Disability Protocol.

SAFOD at the OSISA Disability Roundtable in Swaziland

SAFOD was among the participants at the Disability Roundtable organized by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) held on 1st April 2015 at Happy Valley Hotel Ezulwini, Swaziland, that brought together the country’s Disabled Peoples Organisations (DPOs), Government officials responsible for disability programs, academia, and other stakeholders in the field among others.

One of OSISA’s strategic focus areas is a commitment to deepening democracy, protecting human rights and enhancing good governance in the region, building the capacity of disabled people’s organisations, their networks and umbrella bodies to combat discrimination and exclusion. The delegates to the Disability Roundtable were hence invited to discuss different disability rights issues, informing the development of strategies on how these can be addressed.

During the meeting, there was a general consensus among delegates that most of the national disability laws that have been enacted in some SADC Governments were meant simply to appease the disability movement, just to show they were doing something. But when it comes to implementation, not much was happening. The situation resulted in a lack of awareness about disability issues among the public members.

However, in her presentation, OSISA representative expressed optimism that the laws and pieces of legislation was the first step in the right direction. She said the legislations provided a strong basis for DPOs and other activities to lobby Government on various services hence it would be rather strategic to view the legislation as an opportunity.

“Even where the laws are not working, but the fact that there is an enabling law or policy in place makes it easier for those involved in advocacy to leverage on them and lobby Government to fulfil certain mandates,” she argued.
It was also observed during the forum the women’s movement in the region was weak, and participants agreed that there was a great need to put in place strategies and programs aimed at revitalizing it.

It was also recommended that the OSISA program on strengthening academic institutions to empower persons with disabilities and their DPOs through research and teaching should be sustained if the disability movement in the region were to remain strong.

The recommendation was based on the fact (research data) that more persons with disabilities remain uneducated than those without disabilities due to poverty, stigmatization and other factors which ultimately results in weak disability movement.

SAFOD, FEDOMA Petition Malawian Airlines

airlinesOn 29th August 2014, SAFOD in conjunction with the Federation of Disability Organizations in Malawi (FEDOMA) jointly submitted a petition to the Malawian Airlines appealing to the company to take drastic measures aimed at ensuring that all its facilities and services are disability-friendly ahead of the 2014 AfriNEAD Symposium which will take place from 3rd- 5th November 2014 at Sun and Sand Holiday Resort in Mangochi.

The petition was produced against the background that Malawi prepares to host the 2014 AfriNEAD Symposium organized by the Secretariat of the African Network for Evidence-to-Action on Disability (AfriNEAD) in collaboration with the Faculty of Social Science of the University of Malawi; the Government of Malawi; and FEDOMA. As a country we are expecting about 200 delegates with disabilities from various countries to pass through our airport.

Having noted with regret that some of the services rendered by Airline leave a lot of to be desired despite Government passing the Disability Act barely two years ago, our main fear is that is the potential humiliation that Malawi may face during the conference should there be no attempts to improve services and facilities to make them disability-friendly.

Our case has been strengthened by the complaint submitted to the same company by our colleague, the Chief Executive Officer for the Africa Disability Alliance (ADA), Mr. Kudakwashe Dube, who is alleged to have been dragged on the floor to and from his aircraft seat in Lilongwe, on both his arrival and departure dates on 13 August 2014 and 15 August 2014, respectively.

SAFOD Participation at the 10th Southern Africa Civil Society Forum

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A cross-section of delegates at the 10th Southern Africa Civil Society Forum held from 28th to 30th July 2014, in Harare, Zimbabwe.

SAFOD was invited to participate at the 10th Southern Africa Civil Society Forum held from 28th to 30th July 2014, in Harare, Zimbabwe. SAFOD Project Coordinator, George Kayange, represented the organisation at the forum where he made a presentation on the key issues affecting Persons with Disabilities in the SADC region which were incorporated into the forum’s Declaration and Communique

The organizers of the meeting, the Southern African Development Community – Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (SADC-CNGO), an umbrella body of national associations of NGOs in the SADC region, together with the Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa (FOCCSA) and the Southern Africa Trade Union Coordination Council (SATUCC) extended the invitation following a meeting that SAFOD and SATUCC held two weeks earlier in Botswana where SAFOD lobbied for inclusion of disability on the programme.

The Forum, which ran a few days before the SADC Heads of State and Government Summit, is a platform for civil society in the region that meets every year to dialogue and reflect on issues affecting the SADC region.

The participation of SAFOD at the forum was a huge success as it did not only help to raise the profile of SAFOD as an organisation (as delegates got to know about its existence) at regional level but also significantly raised the profile of the issues that the organisation champions in Southern Africa. The fact that disability was for the first time included as a key issue on the programme as well as incorporated into the communique signified that the Secretariat’s networking efforts are beginning to bear fruits.

The challenge that remains now is for both the SAFOD Secretariat and its membership to take advantage of the SADC-CNGO Thematic Area on Disability, which provides a convenient platform on which we can continue to sustain our advocacy and lobbying for the mainstreaming of the disability issues at the SADC level.

In particular, SAFOD needs to take advantage of the goodwill demonstrated by the other CSOs to support our campaign for the Disability Protocol. For example, the 2016 target is the timeframe within which the Protocol should be in place, and the target has not been proposed by SAFOD. Rather the target was proposed and unanimously agreed by the delegates themselves at probably the largest gathering (over 300) of CSO representatives and activists who represented different sectors in the SADC.  

Most significantly, our participation at the forum also provided us the opportunity to network with various stakeholders through a series of side-meetings, to the extent that we have been recognized by NCA-Malawi and MISA as their potential partners.

SAFOD Participation at the Experts Round-table on the African Disability Protocol

africa_protocolFrom 21st to 22nd August 2014, SAFOD participated in Experts Roundtable on the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa held at the University of Pretoria, Centre for Human Rights Law Faculty.

The round-table meeting was organized by the Africa Disability Alliance (ADA) formerly Secretariat of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities (SADPD) in collaboration with the University of Pretoria Centre For Human Rights and was attended by the African Union, Governments, Disabled Peoples Organisations, development partners, Civil Society Organisations, human rights institutions and academics.

The round-table meeting sought to discuss and seek inputs to the proposed Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa.  The discussions focused on the following two broad questions:

  • What is the need for an African Disability Human rights instrument (the Disability Protocol) (“Feasible or Desirable”)?
  • What are the substantive African disability rights issues? And how can this mechanism protect these rights for Africans with disabilities?

The roundtable meeting sought to discuss and seek inputs to the proposed Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa.  The discussions focused on the following two broad questions.

Represented by its Director Genmeral, Mr. Mussa Chiwaula, SAFOD argued during the debate that if the worldwide campaign to mainstream disability in international and regional development endeavors is to really succeed, then it is very desirable that we, as Africans, have a specific Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa. 

SAFOD believes acknowledged the fact that the continent has its own cultural contexts that need to be comprehensively taken into account when implementing theConvention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) , and the Convention therefore cannot tackle all of them hence we need to come up with our own continental – and even regional – instruments that support the basic principles and spirit of the Convention itself.  We need a Protocol that should be able to, for instance, challenge traditional African views which conflict with the rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

To understand the content of the draft Protocol, download the publication that outlines the general architecture of the Protocol here.

To read more about the Experts’ Round Table event itself and the to view the photos, visit the Centre for Human Rights News (The University of Pretoria) website link here

 

Veteran Activist Tips SAFOD on Stratagies

SAFOD Director General, Mr. Mussa Chiwaula (left), poses for a photograph with Mr. Joshua Malinga after the meeting.
SAFOD Director General, Mr. Mussa Chiwaula (left), poses for a photograph with Mr. Joshua Malinga after the meeting.

On 7th July 2014, SAFOD held a meeting with one of the prominent founders of the organisation, a veteran disability activist and scholar, Mr. Joshua Malinga. The meeting was held in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

Mr. Malinga shared with the SAFOD Director General his thoughts and tips on how to ensure the effective revival of the organisation. The discussions centered on capacity building of affiliates’ leadership; the need to form a disability “think tank” to advise SAFOD on key disability issues; SAFOD networking strategies with other civil society organisations (CSOs), and the specific leadership challenges being faced by some SAFOD national affiliates.

During the meeting, Mr. Malinga expressed gratitude that Mr. Chiwaula had been able to spare some time to meet his “old friend” and discuss issues pertaining to SAFOD.

Mr. Malinga expressed sadness that it was ironical that the disability movement seemed to be so strong at United Nations level, but so weak at pan-Africa and SADC levels.

Mr. Malinga, however, took solace in the fact that Mr. Chiwaula had been appointed Director General at the very opportune time when the disability movement that once used to make its voice felt the Southern Africa region needed boost. He described the appointment of Mr. Chiwaula as refreshing, and that it would give hope to the region.

He said the disability movement in the region was facing unique challenges as “disability” was not just a human rights issue but also a political one. He said people working in the disability sector need to understand the politics of disability.

Mr. Malinga, who is currently lecturing a Degree Course in Disability at Gweru University, proposed that SAFOD needs to develop intensive training programmes for disability leaders in the region. In his own words, he said “we need to do what SAFOD used to do years back.”

When asked by Mr. Chiwaula what kind of SAFOD would he like to see, Mr. Malinga responded that he would like to see an institution that poised to empower leaders of national federations in the region.

He noted that currently most of the leaders of DPOs were no longer powerful as was the case in the past. He reasoned that when the current leadership leaves power, they would not create vacuum if they were well trained and empowered.

He said “disability” is an evolving concept, so too ought to be SAFOD.

At regional level, Mr. Malinga proposed that SAFOD needs to be more proactive on networking with other civil society organisations (CSOs), even with those that are not in disability per se, but deal with human rights in general. He noted, “currently we seem to work outside the CSO movement hence we face challenges to raise our issues.”

Another proposal Mr. Malinga made was that SAFOD needs to push for a disability protocol at SADC level. He, however, expressed delight that coincidentally the new SAFOD Secretariat was already working on this proposal.

Finally,Mr. Malinga proposed that SAFOD needs to select a few prominent in the disability sector to form he termed “A Group of Advisers” or “Think Tank” to advise the SAFOD leadership on voluntary basis on various developmental issues pertaining to disability mainstreaming at SADC level.